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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    By M. Silver--SI.com

    The first time Gus Frerotte and I hung out, we ended a long night by shooting pool in his basement and doing shots of Amaretto. His wife, Ann, wouldn't let us hear the end of it.

    "Amaretto?" she bellowed. "That's really good for Gus' image -- makes him sound like such a strong leader. Hell, Silver, that's not so good for your image, either."

    That was more than a decade ago, when Frerotte was the surprisingly successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Despite being picked in the seventh round of the 1994 draft, Frerotte eventually beat out Heath Shuler -- that year's No. 3 overall pick -- and made the Pro Bowl after an impressive 1996 season.

    Six teams later, Frerotte is now Marc Bulger's backup in St. Louis, where Scott Linehan -- Frerotte's offensive coordinator last season with the Dolphins, a team Frerotte led to a season-ending six-game winning streak, only to lose his job -- is struggling through a 6-8 season as a rookie head coach.

    With Annie's blessing, Gus and I sucked down a couple of Anchor Steams last Saturday evening at the ultra-chic Clift Hotel in San Francisco and talked about our combined six kids, his relationship with fellow Pittsburgh-area native Bulger (named Tuesday to the Pro Bowl) and the play that cost Frerotte half a million dollars.

    Silver: Last year you finally got another shot to start, and you did some good things -- the winning streak at the end, helping turn Chris Chambers into a Pro Bowl receiver. But Nick Saban decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper, who you'd backed up in Minnesota, as his starter. Were you bummed out by that decision?

    Frerotte: It was pretty hard to deal with at first. When a coach is telling you, "You're too old; we're gonna bring in somebody else," that's tough to take. But it wasn't like I'd been there for a long time, so in the end it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Plus my friend and coordinator [Linehan] had just left to become the head coach in St. Louis, and I was able to go with him, so I can't complain.

    Silver: Saban wanted you to stick around and be Daunte's backup. Did you consider doing that?

    Frerotte: Uh, no. I had already done that once. And my pride was hurt. We were 9-7 with me as the starter; I thought we had a good thing going.

    Silver: What did you think of Saban as a head coach?

    Frerotte: Sometimes you really didn't understand where he was coming from. He was always kind of doing all the talking, about everything, but he wasn't always listening. I think he wanted to get involved in the offense, but if you don't really know the offense -- and it was Scott's offense -- that's not necessarily a good idea.

    Silver: You'd been with Scott in Minnesota, and that was a big reason you signed with Miami. Tell me about your relationship with him.

    Frerotte: Well, he sticks up for his players. I found out later that coach Saban wanted to bench me for that last game of the season, because I had a bunch of incentives on the line, and it could have saved the organization money. But Scott told him, "He's the guy who's gotten us this far. There's no way we can bench him now."

    Silver: When you found out that you'd almost been benched, were you shocked?

    Frerotte: Not really. I knew it was a possibility because it happened to me in Denver in the last game of the 2000 season. Mike Shanahan took me out late in the game against the ***** and played Jarious Jackson, and I missed a $500,000 playing time (percentage) incentive by one play.

    Silver: Please tell me that didn't actually happen.

    Frerotte: It did. It sucked. Five-hundred-thousand dollars is a big deal. We appealed it to the league, because he had taken me out for no reason. But when I asked Mike to get involved [with the appeal], he said it was out of his hands. And I lost. So I never got the money.

    Silver: Didn't Mike try to get you to come back to the Broncos as Jake Plummer's backup in '05?

    Frerotte: Yeah. I really like Mike as a person. But I know that when it comes to business, it's totally a business with him. So even though I like him, and it was nice to be wanted, I don't think I'd ever go back down that road.

    Silver: Because of your relationship with Scott, do you think that when you signed with the Rams Marc [Bulger] felt threatened?

    Frerotte: Maybe. It was a little tense at first, and at one point we were both home in the Pittsburgh area and I called him up and asked if he wanted to play golf. During our round I told him, "Look, I'm not here to take your job. I signed here to be your backup. At this stage of my career I'm cool with that." I really wanted us to be friends, especially since we come from the same area. It's turned out great. We've become good friends, and Annie and his girlfriend get along really well, too. He and Annie really connect, actually. Her nickname for him is 'Ultra.'

    Silver: Ultra?

    Frerotte: He's not ultra-special. He's not ultra-cool. He just likes a liquid called 'Ultra.'

    Silver: Ah, weekends were made for it. Even if, as I'm told, it is one step removed from water.

    Frerotte: No comment.

    Silver: How do you guys get along with (No. 3 quarterback ) Ryan Fitzpatrick?

    Frerotte: Oh, great. We love Fitz. In training camp we started telling everyone that he went to Harvard because he'd been recruited to play trombone -- that he had a half-football, half-band scholarship. It drove him crazy, so now we do it all the time. If you end up in an elevator with the three of us, you'll definitely hear our material. And then when a USA Today reporter came to town to do a story on Fitz and Isaiah Kacyvenski -- two guys from Harvard on the same team -- Marc and I cornered the guy and told him all this stuff: that he drove a yellow VW bug, that he had three cats, that he played the trombone in the band. When I got home and told Annie she really let me have it: "You can't let him put that thing about the band in the article; Ryan will be really bummed." So I called the USA Today reporter and asked him to take it out.

    Silver: What about the stuff about the VW and the cats?

    Frerotte: Oh, that stayed in.

    Silver: Even though it wasn't true.

    Frerotte: Right.

    Silver: Remind me not to be on one of your teams. OK, enough about your teammates. Let's goof on you. How are the kids?

    Frerotte: Great. They're all playing sports. Abby (11) played volleyball and is now into basketball, and the boys (Gunnar, 9 and Gabe, 7) had a lot of fun playing football this fall. The funniest thing was that Gunnar played a little quarterback, and he doesn't listen to anything I tell him. When I'd try to give him little tips, like how to take a snap from center, he'd go, "Dad, you're not my coach," and blow me off. Gabe said, "You know, he plays quarterback in the NFL. You should probably listen to him." And Gunnar goes, "I don't care. He's not my coach."

    Silver: OK, last question: Congressman Heath Shuler. Your thoughts?

    Frerotte: I say good for him. The first career path you choose isn't always the right one. I'm sure Heath loved football, but it didn't work out for him. Now, obviously, he's found something that is working out. We weren't good friends or anything, but I have to say, I never saw that one coming.
    Rollin' With Y'all

    "Your football acumen is usually way off base and your undying support of Cal is often nauseating, but it is nice to see an article giving credit to a man who gets it done in the trenches.Good job for shining the light on one of the easily overlooked positions and players in football."

    -- Ryan from Lafayette, CO

    Ah, dude, you really know how to make a sportswriter's day. I'm blushing, in a blue-and-gold sort of way.

    "Mike, I loved the Lorenzo Neal article you wrote. Being from Visalia myself I enjoy the references to the Central Valley. Even Dinuba! I really enjoy the sense of humor you inject into your articles. I am a Niners fan come hell or high water and I loved the article last year about the Yorks. With that said, it appears that they might be starting to right the ship with so much salary cap room next year. But with the Yorks you never know! Your thoughts? If you ever make it to Dinuba you need to eat at Sandoval's. Great Food!!"

    -- Patrick Bryant from Boise

    My thoughts on the Yorks? Wow, that's a long story we'll have to get into another time. Let's just say that though I've yet to indulge in my first Dinuba meal, I have far more faith in Sandoval's than I do in the Niners under the current ownership, no matter how much cap room they've got.


  2. #2
    Rambi's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    Silver: Because of your relationship with Scott, do you think that when you signed with the Rams Marc [Bulger] felt threatened?

    Frerotte: Maybe. It was a little tense at first, and at one point we were both home in the Pittsburgh area and I called him up and asked if he wanted to play golf. During our round I told him, "Look, I'm not here to take your job. I signed here to be your backup. At this stage of my career I'm cool with that." I really wanted us to be friends, especially since we come from the same area. It's turned out great. We've become good friends, and Annie and his girlfriend get along really well, too. He and Annie really connect, actually. Her nickname for him is 'Ultra.'

    Silver: Ultra?

    Frerotte: He's not ultra-special. He's not ultra-cool. He just likes a liquid called 'Ultra.'

    Silver: Ah, weekends were made for it. Even if, as I'm told, it is one step removed from water.

    Frerotte: No comment.
    Does anybody get the "ultra" nickname? I don't get it. :\

  3. #3
    ramsplaya16's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    Hahahaha, that fitz thing is funny stuff!!
    Built RAM tough

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    Michelob Ultra, I'm guessing.

  5. #5
    AlphaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    Gus went to my alma mater, The University of Tulsa!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    "This one time... at band... um, I mean, Ram camp... " - Ryan Fitzpatrick

  7. #7
    BigGameMN's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    LoL, I actually did play trombone and football in HS.

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams' Frerotte learns nothing is personal in the NFL

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Silver: When you found out that you'd almost been benched, were you shocked?

    Frerotte: Not really. I knew it was a possibility because it happened to me in Denver in the last game of the 2000 season. Mike Shanahan took me out late in the game against the ***** and played Jarious Jackson, and I missed a $500,000 playing time (percentage) incentive by one play.

    Silver: Please tell me that didn't actually happen.

    Frerotte: It did. It sucked. Five-hundred-thousand dollars is a big deal. We appealed it to the league, because he had taken me out for no reason. But when I asked Mike to get involved [with the appeal], he said it was out of his hands. And I lost. So I never got the money.
    That's seriously messed up. That Shanahan would screw someone out of money they deserved is pathetic.

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